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Continued after 12th Maharaja :~

CHAPTER - 3 of 6

Previous King(s)

Maharaja Dhairjendra Narayan [Rajshak 256-261 || 1765-1770 A.D.] : 13th Maharaja

(p1) After the death of Maharaja Debendra Narayan, Najir Rudra Narayan decided to make his nephew Khagendra Narayan the next king. But high ranking courtiers & kings men like minister Gouriprasanna Mustafi, khasnabis Gouriprasad and others did not support such decision. At last based on united decision, Dhairjendra Narayan, cousin of Debendra Narayan (son of his eldest uncle Kharga Narayan who was also the dewan), was crowned in as the king of Behar. Najir Rudra Narayan held the royal umbrella upon Maharaja Dhairjendra Narayan. Gouriprasad Mustafi was appointed as khasnabis. His brother Shachinandan Mustafi was favourite to Maharaja. He used to stay with the king and no royal proceeding was carried out without his consent/advice. Maharaja Dhairjendra Narayan issued coins in his own name.

In the meantime Debraj, king of Bhutan, felt sorry coming to know from his spies about the assassination of Maharaja Debendra Narayan. When he further learnt that Rajguru Ramananda Goswami was behind the conspiracy, he sent his army to arrest Ramananda and thereafter took him to the Bhutan capital Punakh. Debraj sentenced him and sent a royal messenger named Pensuthma to the Behar court. Execution of any royal proceeding was not possible without the prior consent of Pensuthma.     
next (p2)

(p2) During this time many regions like Jalpeswar, Mandas, Jalash, Lakshmipur, Santarabari, Maraghat, Bholka and others went under the grip of the Bhutias. All those regions were under Behar kingdom. By that time Maharaja Dhairjendra Narayan married Kamteswari Devi and other five maidens. After some time Maharaja obtained his son Dharendra Narayan.

At that time of all royal courtiers Maharaja Dhairjendra Narayan used to trust Ram Narayan the most. Ram Narayan was the Dewan as well as the eldest brother of Dhairjendra Narayan. Rest of the royal courtiers felt jealous of being deprived from such trust worthiness. They started to incite the Maharaja against Ram Narayan. It might be hard for Dhairjendra Narayan to arrive at any conclusion and probably that drove the deranged king to think otherwise. At last one day Maharaja Dairjendra Narayan sent for Ram Narayan in his palace and struck him with his sword. Maharaja's spies then murdered Ram Narayan. Bhutan king Debraj came to know about the incident through his spies and was convinced that Maharaja Dhairjendra Narayan had lost his wits. Debraj sent some of his loyal courtiers along with some soldiers to Buxa. They invited Maharaja Dhairjendra Naryan to their annual feast.        
next (p3)

(p3) At first Dhairjendra Narayan expressed his inability to be present at the party. At that point the Bhutias informed the Maharaja that in his absence they would also not attend the said party and would boycott the same. At last Maharaja Dhairjendra Narayan agreed to join the party. There he was imprisoned while king's soldiers    (p3 contd..)

(p3contd..) fled and the newly appointed Dewan also escaped the seizure. Maharaja Dhairjendra Narayan was taken back to Bhutan capital Punakh.

During this time large scale famine broke out (1176 Bangabda - Bengali calender).  
(next p4)

Maharaja Rajendra Narayan [Rajshak 261-263 || 1770-1772 A.D.] : 14th Maharaja

(p4) Debraj, king of Bhutan, imprisoned Maharaja Dhairjendra Narayan and crowned in Rajendra Narayan (Dhairjendra Narayan's second elder brother) as the next Behar king. After ascending the throne Maharaja Rajendra Narayan appointed Hareswar Karjee as the dewan and Jadunandan as the treasurer. But practically the Maharaja had no power in administering the state. Virtually Bhutan royalty's representative Pensuthma was the administrator of the kingdom. All kings men abode by his   (p4 contd..)

(p4 contd..) command/instruction. At that time Bhutian influence was at such an extent that Maharaja Rajendra Narayan was the king in name only. Even he along with the Rajmata (mother-queen) had to live upon the income from his personal farm though Pensuthma used to grant little for their living. In that way two years passed away. By that time Rajendra Narayan got married. Tragically on the fifth day after his marriage Rajendra Narayan suffered severe fever and breathed his last in 1772 A.D.  (next p5)

Maharaja Dharendra Narayan [Rajshak 263-266 || 1772-1775 A.D.] : 15th Maharaja

(p5) Maharaja Rajendra Narayan died in 1772 leaving behind no son to succeed him. Taking this opportunity in order to acquire the throne Baikuntha Narayan conspired with Bhutan king's representative Pensuthma. Pensuthma confiscated the royal throne, scepter & umbrella and kept in the Madan Mohan temple under heavy guard  (p5 contd..)

(p5 contd..)  of Bhutia soldiers. On the other side, Najirdeo Kashinath Lahiri, Gosaijideo discussed with the Queen and decided to enthrone Dharendra Narayan (son of Maharaja Dhairjendra Narayan) as the Behar king. Accordingly Najirdeo reached Madan Mohan temple equipped with many soldiers. Other royal persons of high ranks  (next p6)

(p6) also assembled there. All of them expelled the Bhutia soldiers on guard over there and crowned in Dharendra Narayan as the next Behar king. Najirdeo held the royal umbrella over the Maharaja. Coins were issued in the name of Maharaja Dharendra Narayan.

In the meantime Pensuthma fled to Bhutan through Buxaduar and informed the Bhutan King about the turnover of events in Behar. Furious with the circumstances Bhutan King sent an army of 4000 soldiers to invade Behar capital. Behar Najirdeo also proceeded to resist the attack. The Bhutia army was defeated in that battle and forced to retreat. Bhutan King then collected all soldiers within his kingdom and sent his nephew Zimpe along with a strong army of 18,000 soldiers to win over the Behar capital. Those Bhutia soldiers descended the hills along the mountain passes of Buxaduar, Lakshimpurduar and other passages. Fierce battle was fought with the soldiers of Behar at a place named Sanjamini. Many soldiers were wounded and lost their lives. In that battle predicting defeat the Behar army retreated. That moment Gosaijideo and Khasnabis shifted Maharaja Dharendra Narayan and Rajmata (mother-queen) to Panga in Rangpur district.

At last Bhutan army commander Zimpe invaded Behar capital and captured the kingdom. Thenafter he enthroned
Bijendra Narayan 16th Maharaja (son of Dewan  (next p7)

(p7) Ram Narayan who was murdered by Dhairjendra Narayan) as the new king of Behar. Maharaja Bijendra Narayan was taken back to Chekakhata in Bhutan. It became hard for child Bijendra Narayan to bear the climate of the mountains and falling sick breathed his last. The Bhutias then totally brought the Behar kingdom under them. They built forts at Gitaldaha, Baladanga, Manduamari & other places and stationed soldiers over there. Bhutan army commander Zimpe himself stayed at the Behar fort under tight security of strong soldiers detained around the palace. There were soldiers from north Bhutan in his army.  They were infact cannibals and possessed beastly habits. When there was scarcity of meat, they were offered the flesh of the captive soldiers. Zimpe pegged in poisonous bamboo poles all around the Behar palace so that whoever had his leg cut by those poles was sure to die!

In that way the Bhutias captured the entire kingdom of Behar. Only Rupan Singh of Rahimganj Pargana was able to upheld its freedom. At that juncture Najirdeo, Gosai Khagendra Narayan and Khasnabis after discussing with the Rajmata came to the conclusion that in no other way but the help of the British army it was possible to free the kingdom from the clutches of the Bhutias and accordingly they should immediately plead with the British. At that time East India Company was ruling Bangadesh (then consolidated Bengal).     
(next p8)

(p8) With Maharaja Dharendra Narayan's letter Kashinath Lahiri met Company agent Mr. Harris at Dinajpur and proposed on behalf of the Behar King to give one lakh rupees to the Company and in return Company would drive out the Bhutias from the Maharaja's kingdom. But then Governor General Hastings did not comply to such proposal. At last an agreement was met upon according to which the Maharaja would pay annual revenue to the Company and in return the Company would always protect the Behar kingdom from any encroachment by the enemy. According to that agreement Behar practically came under the supremacy of the British.

Under the command of Mr. Paling a regiment of soldiers along with four cannons left Kalikata (Calcutta/Kolkata) marched through Rangpur towards Mughalhat. Najiedeo Gosai and Khasnabis along with their soldiers joined Mr. Paling. Message was sent to the Bhutia camp that if they did not abandon the fort then Mr. Paling would attack the following day around 10 a.m. But the Bhutias did not abandon the Gitaldaha Fort. Following day Mr. Paling and his lieutenant crossed river Dharla and landed on the other bank. But Najirdeo and Behar army commander Bhagabant Kumar had by that time had attacked the Gitaldaha Fort & cleared off the Bhutias. The Bhutia soldiers took shelter in Baladanga Fort. At that instance Mr. Paling ordered that no further attacks should be carried out without his   
(next p9)

(p9) instruction/permission. Thereafter crossing  Dinhata Fort Mr. Paling proceeded with four cannons & one company of soldiers. When they approached Baladanga Fort, the Bhutia soldiers marched forward to attack them. Mr. Paling ordered his soldiers to move back. In that way they moved back passing the cannons' lineup. On the other hand, the Bhutia soldiers kept on marching forward with more confidence noticing the retreat of the English soldiers. At that point the English canons started firing at the misguided Bhutia soldiers and thus killing them in groups. Noticing that English deception, the rest of Bhutia soldiers fled for their life. Mr. Paling captured the Nazirganj Fort where from the Bhutia soldiers fled and took shelter in the Behar fort. Mr. Paling appeared at the Behar capital. He set his camp by the pond-side of Debibari. He stationed two companies of soldiers to the southern side of the palace and another two companies at Khagrabari. Many Bhutia soldiers fled from the palace that night. Next Day all the poisonous bamboo poles pegged around the palace were removed by rolling down banana tree-trunks. In the following day's battle Bhutan army commander Zimpe fought fiercely with his loyal soldiers and bravely lost his life. Few Bhutia soldiers were held prisoners. Flags of the Maharaja and the Company were hoisted at the palace. Najirdeo and Khasnabis appeared at the palace and after the cleaning process the Rajmata along with Maharaja Dharendra Narayan entered the palace.   (next p10)

(p10) Mr. Paling having met the Maharaja stayed in Behar for five days. Stationing two companies of soldiers at the capital Mr. Paling proceeded to the north along with Najirdeo Gosai, Khasnabis and regiment of soldiers. He captured the main fort of Chekakhata owned by the Bhutias. Chekakhata was near the present place of Raja Bhatkhawa. Thus in 1772 A.D. under the protection of the British the Bhutias were expelled from Behar.

Mr. Paling informed the Governor General at Kalikata about the victory and waited for the latter's consent on whether he should proceed to the hilly regions of Bhutan. On the other hand the British Company was not interested to attack Bhutan. But message was sent to the Bhutan king that if Maharaja Dhairjendra Narayan, his brother Surendra Narayan, Dewandeo and others held prisoners were freed then the Bhutan King could keep his kingdom under his jurisdiction. Bhutan King agreed to such pact and after meeting Maharaja Dhairjendra Narayan he bade them farewell along with royal offerings as a token of friendship.

Najirdeo and other high ranking officials met Maharaja Dhairjendra Narayan and offered him najranas (gifts/presents) in celebration of the come back of the Maharaja. But Maharaja Dhairjendra Narayan was 
(next p11)

(p11) not at all happy perceiving the British domination. He felt sorry at the turning of events and questioned the Najirdeo about what led him to bow down the divine-blest land before a foreign power. Najirdeo explained that it was for his sake - for freeing him as well as the land from the Bhutias, such sole circumstance-seeking act was imperative at that juncture. But the Maharaja could not bear the acceptability of foreign supremacy and in turn paying revenue thus draining out resources from own land. Maharaja Dhairjendra Narayan emphasized that it would have been better if Viswasingha's dynastical rule had come to an end in letting any other local king to rule the land. Previously privileged as an independent king, he could not tolerate ruling his own land under any other's dominance. When Dhairjendra Narayan was escorted to the capital and asked upon to ascend the throne, emotion stricken Maharaja Dhairjendra Narayan declined to enthrone excusing his dedication to the divine power. He asked Dharendra Narayan to enthrone and rule the land.

Mr. Paling returned to Rangpur stationing one company of soldiers in Behar. Maharaja Dharendra Narayan started ruling Behar in presence of the dejected exMaharaja Dhairjendra Narayan. Maharaja Dharendra Narayan passed away in 1775 leaving behind no son to succeed. 
(next p12)

Maharaja Dhairjendra Narayan [Rajshak 266-274 || 1775-1783 A.D.] : 17th Maharaja (second term)

(p12) When Maharaja Dharendra Narayan passed away in 1775 leaving behind no son to succeed him, on the request of Najirdeo, Khasnabis and other high-ranking officials, Maharaja Dhairjendra Narayan ascended the throne for the second time. But he used to remain absorbed in the worship/devotion to Goddess Bhagwati. His attention towards royal administration lessened. In case Khasnabis used to present him capital & clothing, Maharaja Dhairjendra Narayan distributed the same among the poor & needy. He used to accept nothing for his consumption or personal luxury.

After a few days Maharaja Dhairjendra Narayan set off on pilgrimage. Even on the request of Gosai, Khasnabis and other officials, he did not take horses, tents & manpower along with him and set out with a few Brahmin priests. Khasnabis secretly arranged for the Maharaja's bodyguards. Maharaja used to tour around on foot and spend the night under trees. On his journey Raja Baidyanath, king of Dinajpur, met the Maharaja and presented him gifts. But Maharaja Dhairjendra Narayan distributed those kinds among the poor people. Reaching Gaya he carried out ceremonial Sradhas (rituals offered to the past ancestors) and granted Brahmattar to Brahmins. He also granted lots to the poor over there. On reaching Kashi (sacred place of the Hindus) he donated to
(next p13)

(p13) the Brahmins and the poor. After resting there for a few days he returned back home. Due to that pilgrimage his soul smoothened to some extent from the dejection he was suffering from.

In the meantime Maharaja Dhairjendra Narayan earned another son who was named as Harendra Narayan. Maharaja donated a lot in connection to the birth of the new prince. Maharaja Dhairjendra Narayan fell sick afterwards. In spite of utmost attending by his doctors his sickness aggravated day-by-day. At that stage the Maharaja passed a will according to which his son Harendra Narayan would be the next king of Behar and adjoining Chaklas (regions). By the time Harendra Narayan mature enough to rule, Rajmata (mother-queen) would direct the administration. Maharaja passed away in 1783 A.D.

 Administration & Judicial System :~
   During Maharaja Dhairjendra Narayan there was a single judicial court for trial of all types of cases of the kingdom. Shibprasad Mustafi was the judge. There was no rule for accepting fee/charge for suits. Application for litigation was placed before the Maharaja. The opponent was summoned. Judge used to carry out the hearings with the help of Pandits (learned ones acting as pleaders). Muchulika (undertaking) was collected from both the parties.
(next p14)

(p14) Judgments were passed on the basis of evidences & witness. Results of cases were intimated to the Maharaja. Responsibility of maintaining peace & order was vested on the Kotwal (a post). But the Kotwal was not entitled to judge. On the basis of written complaint of the Kotwal all Faujdari litigations were tried by the court. There was no custom of registering litigations. No life sentence was given during Maharaja Dhairjendra Narayan. Generally all proceedings of judgments were carried out at the palace itself and general people used to be present over there.

 Trade & Commerce :~
   Every year approximately ten thousand Mone salt, (one Mone = 40 Kg.) two/three thousand Mone molasses and small amount of iron were imported. Traders used to buy approximately on lakh Mone tobacco,  ten thousand Mone Mustard-seed and opium from different hats (market places) and collected the same at the ports of Mogolhat & Debiganj. From there those products were exported to Murshidabad and Dhaka. Income declined from 1,8,763 Narayani (Maharaja's currency) in 1181 Bangabda (Bengali calender) to 1,03,022 Narayani in 1184 Bangabda. Expenditure for the said years were 70,383 and 39,811 Narayani respectively. At that time there was custom of human trading. Boys & girls were beautifully ornamented and sold at the markets. Approximately 100 children were traded annually from that segment. Price of each 
(next p15)

(p15) girl ranged from 12 to 15 Narayani while each Koch boy was sold at a maximum price of 25 Narayani. Kalita boy was of 50 Narayani. Sometimes children were exported to Brahmadesh. Neighboring Bhutias & Garos stole children from Behar and engaged them as servants/attendants.

 State Condition :~
    At that time people were in a wretched condition due to the continuing internal & external friction of Behar kingdom. They had no security. For an Anna (paisa) they could have rice, salt, oil, fish, chilly etc. for a day's food. The northern side of the kingdom had thin habitation while the southern side was densely populated.

 Saints of that period :~
    A group of saints appeared that time. They lent out money and recovered twice to thrice of that amount. A saint named Narayangiri acquired extensive power. Many people even had to run away from the land to avoid being tormented at their hands.

 Dacoits during that period :~
    During that period among other regions of Behar kingdom Rangpur and Dinajpur were much infested by dacoits. Bhavani Pathak, Majun Saha and others were notable dacoits of that time. Even rich influential 
(next p16)

(p16) people used to rob by their own group of dacoits. East India Company took special steps to repress the dacoits. In 1773 A.D. Captain Thomas lost his life while attacking a group of saints. After that soldiers were stationed at different northern places to suppress the dacoits and saints. Napali saints took shelter in the jungles of Baikunthapur under Jalpaiguri district and kept on infiltrating Behar and bothering public life.  (next p16contd..)

(p16contd..) At last Collector of Rangpur resisted such troublesome situation by setting up army stations at Dimla and Baikunthapur. Those saints almost used no weapons. They were very brave and took away all the strong boys forcibly with them along the way they passed through and impelled them to join their group. Local people had a affection for them and so did not use to reveal their whereabouts. For that reason it was hard for the Company authorities to suppress them.     (next Maharaja)

 Source  :- Translated from "Kochbiharer Itihas", 2nd edition (1988), by Shri. Hemanta Kumar Rai Barma
- ex-Nayeb Ahilkar of Kochbihar estate (SDO), M.A.,B.L.)
|| "Kochbihar Parikrama" edited by Krishnendu Dey, Niraj Biswas & Digbijoy De Sarkar

click for Next Maharajas (from 18th Maharaja) > CHAPTER 4

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